Biden’s ‘get tough’ policy on Russia falters under onerous embassy rules

President Joe Biden’s “get tough” policy on Russia appears to be as much of a sham as the rest of his presidency.

The Biden administration is at a stalemate, The Washington Times reports, over new rules imposed by Russia that the U.S. embassy there cannot hire Russians or third country staffers, which has forced the U.S. to fire some 180 of its existing staff. 

Lawmakers from both parties have urged Biden to expel hundreds of Russian diplomats in retaliation for the Russian actions, but Biden has seemed reluctant to do so.

It turns out Biden isn’t any better than former President Donald Trump at holding Russia to account, despite making campaign pledges to crack down on Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.

U.S. needs Russia

Why would Biden refuse to get tough on Russia? As it would turn out, he needs them for their access to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Russia is one of the few countries willing to deal with the Taliban, and the U.S. hopes to piggyback off their access.

“The problem is the Biden administration is now indirectly reliant on not escalating with Russia because of the situation in Afghanistan,” director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation Luke Coffey told The Washington Times. “The U.S. needs to have access, engagement, with Central Asia and with those countries. Russia can turn that on and turn that off.”

The U.S. also needs Russia in its negotiations with Iran on a new nuclear deal, which Biden desperately wants.

“On Iran, this administration remains very desperate to secure a new nuclear agreement and, historically, it has been Russia that provided diplomatic cover for Iran on the international stage,” Coffey added. “Right now, the Biden administration has kind of painted itself into a corner.”

Words, but no actions

While Biden has condemned Russia and Putin for last year’s poisoning and detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and for cyberattacks against U.S. interests, he has not backed up those words with any actions.

And Biden will likely find out soon, like a parent who scolds and threatens but never follows through, that Russia has virtually stopped taking the U.S. seriously, and seems to be ignoring the hand-wringing and veiled threats because it knows there’s nothing behind the words.

A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. government “reserves the right to take appropriate response measures to Russia‘s actions,” which, let’s be honest, means they probably won’t.

NATO has been stronger than the U.S. on Russia as of late, taking action against Moscow on Thursday to expel at least eight members of Russia‘s diplomatic mission in Brussels, which officials said were undeclared intelligence officers.

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